Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort, Thirlmere


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012942

Date first listed: 26-Aug-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort, Thirlmere
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: St. John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 29989 18844

Reasons for Designation

In the northern uplands a number of small hillforts or fortified enclosures of varying shape have been identified. They are located on hilltops or distinctive craggy knolls and generally have an internal area of less than 1ha. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks, usually ditches with or without adjacent banks or ramparts. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories or rocky knolls, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. The layout of the site is heavily dependent upon the topography of the location. The core area of the site, where the main living accommodation was provided, occupies the highest position on the hill or crag. Additional living or working areas are also frequently located between or within the surrounding earthworks and may take the form of rock-cut levelled areas. They are of Iron Age date and are contemporary with other more common hillfort types. Some, however, may have been reused or have been new constructions in post-Roman times. Hillforts of this type are rare, with fewer than 100 identified examples. In view of this rarity and their importance for hillfort studies and the understanding of the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national importance. Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort is a good example of this class of monument. It survives well and remains unencumbered by modern development. The monument's defensive earthworks in particular remain well preserved and the site will retain evidence of the activities undertaken within the site and the methods utilised in its defence.


The monument includes Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort. It is located at the northern end of a plateau with a rocky knoll known as Castle Crag forming the highest point. The ground falls steeply on the monument's north and west sides. To the south and east are earthworks which defend the hillfort from the easiest line of approach. On the summit of the knoll are three rock-cut levelled areas measuring between 6m square and 3m square which are interpreted as hut platforms. The knoll is defended on its south west and east sides by a rock-cut ditch measuring c.7m wide by 1m deep. To the south of the knoll is a relatively flat sub-oval area containing two rectangular rock-cut levelled areas; the larger measures approximately 21m by 9m, the smaller measures 8m by 7m. Also located within this sub-oval area is a rectangular shallow rock-cut depression measuring 25m by 7m. To the south and east the monument is defended by a massive earth and stone bank up to 6.5m high externally with an internal ditch. Beyond this bank further defensive earthworks include two closely-spaced banks and ditches on the monument's south east side; the banks measure up to 3m high, the ditches up to 8m wide. At the northern end of these two banks and ditches, adjacent to the eastern side of the earth and stone bank, is a level area measuring 28m by 16m. An entrance to the hillfort's interior is located on the eastern side and is represented by a narrow passageway cut through the earth and stone bank at its northern end close to the foot of the rocky knoll.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 23682

Legacy System: RSM


SMR No. 5497, Cumbria SMR, Shoulthwaite Gill Hillfort, (1987)

End of official listing